A 30- year long study conducted by the Republic of Seychelles reported that there was no link between autism-like disorders and prenatal exposure to mercury. The study published in the journal Epidemiology on 23rd July evaluated 1784 children, youth and mothers.
The researchers evaluated hair samples of mothers before delivery of their children for the amount of mercury, which is the standard method to quantify mercury exposure. The team then evaluated autism-like responses of the children of these mothers using questionnaires for both the mother and child. The data revealed no association between the levels of mercury in pregnant mothers and autism-spectrum behaviour in the children. Despite above average consumption of fish in the Seychelles and prenatal maternal mercury levels averaging 6-10 times more than those in Europe or USA, the good effects of consuming fish during pregnancy probably outweighed the high mercury levels said Philip Davidson, lead investigator.
Being an island country (located in the Indian Ocean), Seychelles has the advantage of a population whose chief source of food is the ocean. Thus, if the population here was not affected by the mercurial fish, then it’s highly likely that it does not affect anyone, anywhere. Regular consumption of food sources containing high amounts of mercury, however, is not advised as health issues can develop.
Despite increasing evidence to suggest mercury has no influence on the development of autism spectrum disorders, researcher noted that there is still a concern that autism in children and mercury are connected.